Pole Position is a vital aspect of F1. It is awarded to the fastest driver on the grid, based on the performance in qualifying, who gets to start the race in P1. However, the process of getting there is not an easy one.
Qualifying sessions are usually held on Saturdays to determine the pole sitter. Drivers have to face three rounds, where the ten slowest cars are eliminated in the first two rounds and the third round determines the top 10 starting positions.
However, being on pole only gives you an edge and does not necessarily guarantee a race win.
The 2022 season has been a testament to this fact. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has secured pole a record nine times this season. However, the driver has only won two races. Clearly, securing the pole and converting it are two different stories.
However, there are drivers who have managed to convert their pole into a win a record number of times. Let’s see which of them have the highest conversion rates:
Bill Vukovich raced for Kurtis Kraft during the 1953 F1 season. The American-Serbian won the historic Indianapolis 500 race ahead of the likes of Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio. He has managed one pole position throughout his racing career and won from it, a 100 percent conversion rate.
He then became the repeat winner of the US Grand Prix the following year and sadly died while leading the race in 1955. Vukovich, however, is not the only one with a 100 percent conversion rate. He shares this stat with Pat Flaherty (1956 Indianapolis 500), Jo Bonnier (1959 Dutch GP), Thierry Boutsen (1990 Hungarian GP) and Paston Maldonado (2012 Spanish GP).
Max Verstappen has a 77.77 percent pole-to-win conversion rate. The Dutchman has secured 18 pole positions so far, out of which he has won 14. It is worth noting that he did not always have a championship winning car.
In his 2021 titular stint, though, the driver won 10 pole positions and converted 7 of them to wins. In 2022 the Dutchman has so far managed five pole positions and has won four. Strikingly, Verstappen is one of the youngest drivers to achieve this kind of conversion rate.
With 5 races still to go in 2022, the Red Bull driver has a chance to grasp as many wins and poles as his car allows.
The former Brazilian world champion is third on this list. He has a pole-to-win conversion rate of 66.67 percent. Notably, Fittipaldi‘s first pole was at the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix, which the driver couldn’t win.
The driver went on to take two more poles that year in Austria and Belgium, managing to convert them into victories. The following year, the Brazilian managed just one more pole in Austria, failing to secure a win.
In 1974, he sensationally took pole for his home crowd in Brazil and won. The driver also took victory in Canada that year. Overall, the Brazilian finished on pole six times, converting four of them to victories.
Fittipaldi, however, shares this conversion rate with Tony Brooks and Jody Scheckter. Both drivers won from pole twice out of the three times. Brooks was notably on pole twice while with Ferrari F1 and once with Vanwall F1.
Scheckter, who was a world champion with Ferrari in 1979, won singular poles in 1976, 1977, and 1979. His race win at the 1979 Monaco GP remains significant as it significantly helped him win the title that year.
The former Ferrari pilot was no match for his competitors during his time in F1. He won 14 pole positions in his career, out of which 13 were with the prancing horse. Further, the driver converted nine of these into wins, taking a conversion rate of 64.29 percent.
Ascari saw his biggest success at the F1 German Grand Prix, with three poles and two wins. The Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain were his second-best achievements with two qualifying wins each. Notably, he was in front of the starting grid consecutively at the Dutch GP in 1952 and 1953, winning on both occasions.
The 1952 and 1953 seasons saw Ascari dominating the tracks largely. The Italian won both seasons in a row for Scuderia Ferrari. He is the only person to be a world champion in both motorcycle racing and F1.
Fernando Alonso has a pole-to-win ratio of 63.64 percent. He has secured pole an impressive 22 times and has won 14 of these races. His most impressive run was at Renault F1 where he started at P1 16 times, winning the race on nine occasions.
The driver’s time with Ferrari (2010-2014) was a decent one, as he managed pole four times and won thrice. However, ‘El Nano’ was not always provided with the best car and still managed stellar performances, specifically in 2010 and 2012.
At McLaren, he had a 100 percent pole-to-win ratio given he won from pole twice in 2007 (Monaco and Italy).
Winning from pole has always been a sign of a dominating display. The more often these drivers do it, the better their conversion rates. However, these are some of the very few who have managed this feat.
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